Seward pushing for Belleayre approval

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By Joe Moskowitz
During a visit on Saturday to Margaretville’s Great Outdoor Adventure, New York State Senator James Seward said that when he returns to Albany, he wants to do what he can to get the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to give the final go ahead for the proposed Belleayre Resort.
Seward, a Republican from Oneonta, said the resort is vital to the future health of this area’s economy. Seward has long been on record as a supporter of the proposed $400 million project. Public comment on the resort ended on July 24, but the DEC has given no indication when it will make its decision.
But Seward is facing at least three problems. There is no guarantee he will get enough of his fellow lawmakers to agree to pass a resolution. Privately owned Hunter and Windham mountains are in Greene County and members of that county’s legislature have already voiced their opposition to the expansion of state-owned Belleayre Ski Center, which is also part of the DEC review. If a resolution is approved, it would be merely symbolic as it is up to the DEC and not the legislature to decide on its future. And Seward has no idea when he will be going back to work in order to propose the resolution.
The state legislature has been on a break since the first week of June. With the budget passed on time and all of the major pieces of legislation voted on, lawmakers went home for the summer and are not scheduled to return to Albany until January unless called to do so by the governor.
But, Seward says, there is plenty of unfinished business. Residents will soon be receiving their school tax bills and he says one of the reasons school and other municipal budgets are so high is state mandates. He says he would like to return to Albany to see if something can be done about mandate relief. He says it is a huge, expensive problem and it’s time something is done about it. He says it is even tougher for schools to manage while trying to stay under the two percent cap on tax increase.
But for now, Seward says he gets to go to events like Margaretville’s Great Outdoor Adventure and gets to meet people in the district. Even though he is a 27-year veteran of the senate, this is his first year representing people in this area.